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Mount Isa Mines Rehabilitation Materials Sampling and Analysis program for closure planning


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Author K Mandaran, J Jones, C Nucifora, G Maddocks, M Landers, A Forbes, W Wilson and S Newman


Glencore’s Mount Isa Mines Limited (MIM) operates the Mount Isa open cut and underground copper (Cu) and zinc-lead (Zn/Pb) mines near Mount Isa in Queensland, Australia. Tailings from processed Cu and Zn-Pb ore is contained in a 1,315 ha shallow (< 35 m deep) multi-cell valley fill tailings storage facility (TSF). Static geochemical testing conducted by MIM over the life of mine (LoM) verifies that the Cu, and Zn-Pb tailings has a wide range in sulfide content and diverse mineralogy with significant acid neutralising capacity (ANC) in some samples. The tailings are predominantly classified as potentially acid forming (PAF) using static analytical methods. Kinetic leach testing using free draining columns and humidity cell tests simulating tailings placed on the surface of the TSF suggest that the tailings samples are likely to remain non-acid forming (NAF) for 10 to 40 years under aerial exposure, and much longer than this under saturated conditions within the TSF. During this period of weathering, as ANC is depleted, the neutral pH drainage may contain elevated concentrations of some elements including sulfate, manganese and zinc. Only when the ANC is depleted would the tailings then begin to produce acid drainage. CITATION: Mandaran, K, Jones, J, Nucifora, C, Maddocks, G, Landers, M, Forbes, A, Wilson, W and Newman, S, 2018. Mount Isa Mines Rehabilitation Materials Sampling and Analysis program for closure planning, in Proceedings Life-of-Mine 2018, pp 138–140 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).